[mythtv-users] [Slightly OT] solar power for all our gadgets

Jon Bishop jon.the.wise.gdrive at gmail.com
Wed Mar 11 03:53:30 UTC 2009

On Mar 10, 2009, at 8:45 AM, Jeff Walther wrote:

>> Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2009 04:37:43 -0700
>> From: Jon Bishop <jon.the.wise.gdrive at gmail.com>
>> While I am all for building a few more nuclear plants (or as good ol
>> 'W' likes to sake Nukuler) I still believe that every citizen has a
>> responsibility to produce a portion of the energy that they use.
> While that's a great sounding idea, it makes no sense in an industrial
> society.  The reason we can support the populations that we do and  
> raise
> them out of poverty is mass production, industrialization and
> *specialization*.  All of which lead to massive economies of scale.
> Rolling back those economies translates to making everything massively
> more expensive.

Yes and no. I'm not saying everyone should produce ALL their own  
energy. That would be impractical, and fall right in line with what  
you're saying... but SOME of the energy - that's easy. It might be  
that it needs to be a socialized system (oh no, I said the S word)  
where everyone pays for the electricity that they use, and rather than  
building huge solar farms in the desert, the utilities take the  
surplus and offer incentive programs to install solar on rooftops.  
Instead of lobbying to build huge dams that might have irreversible  
impacts on the environment, they could use that money to install micro- 
hydro facilities in every creek and river in the US. Many of these  
facilities would be on private land, and none of them would disrupt  
the flow of the water. By doing this, we also gain the benefit of a  
decentralized grid, and when grid-tied systems are hooked up properly  
(that transfer switch is very important) with battery banks in many of  
these people's homes, we won't NEED to build huge nuclear reactors to  
make up for the energy that we're currently producing from coal.

> Making every individual generate some energy creates huge  
> inefficiencies
> which, when simplified, translates to making everyone needlessly  
> poorer.

I don't see how you figure that. By having energy placed into the grid  
WHERE it is BEING USED instead of generating it in Arizona and  
shipping it over high voltage lines across hundreds of miles, you're  
reducing inefficiencies in the grid.

> Plus, I don't know about you, but I'm tapped out, in terms of time  
> and,
> money.  I do not want to take up home generation as my new hobby-- 
> I'd have
> to give up MythTV.   I resent the folks who think, "Oh, my idea will  
> cost
> everyone several hours a week, but that's okay, they can afford it to
> satisfy my pet view of paradise."

Well, actually, home power generation *is* sorta one of my hobbies,  
along with all my other interests which we won't get into, time has  
never been my problem, it's always the costs that get me. That's  
likely because of my plethora of other hobbies and interests. I also  
have a slightly longer weekend than most. For a moment we'll ignore  
the costs (as scale increases, those would go down, to a point where  
it's actually cheaper to use solar than to pay for the fuel to use  
traditional techniques). Having solar power on your roof doesn't cost  
any time (sans installation, which is usually done by a contractor, an  
occasional shot at the roof with a hose, maybe a semi-annual  
squeegeeing, which the neighbor kid might be able to do with a big  
pole, while he's mowing the lawns) Nor does having a micro-hydro  
generator. A windmill takes semi-annual maintenance, but again, not a  
couple hours a week. None of these solutions is perfect everywhere.  
Many of them compliment each other though. As long as we have people  
saying no, we can't do that, I don't want to, it's too much money, or  
it's too hard - of course it's going to be all those things. Until we  
actually put forth efforts on a national scale, the individuals that  
DO actually do these things are the only ones that will ever benefit,  
and it will be expensive for them to do so.

> If we all had to build all the stuff we use, we'd all be subsistence
> farmers.  There certainly wouldn't be any telecommunications industry
> beyond telegraphs on copper lines--maybe, assuming we could get  
> ourselves
> up to smelting and drawing copper.

You are completely misinterpreting what I've said. I could never build  
a computer from scratch. Nor a cell phone. I'm talking about  
ELECTRICITY, which, as I mentioned, is EASY to make. All you need is a  
roll of copper wire and magnet, and you can make AC. Add a couple  
diodes, and you've got DC. To make 'usable' (for modern devices, on a  
realistic scale) electricity will take a couple more magnets and a few  
more coils of wire, but it's not all that difficult, nor time  
consuming. Doing this one thing would solve so many of the energy  
problems we face today.

> It sounds like you read one of those beautiful tracts in environmental
> lobby magazines which completely ignore the realities of modern  
> society
> and its infrastructure.

While it is true that I've been a subscriber to magazines such as  
Mother Earth News, I do not believe that we should sacrifice  
infrastructure and technology for the benefit of nature. I am,  
however, a strong believer in that fact that we need to SUPPLEMENT and  
DECENTRALIZE our infrastructure, to increase it's efficiency and  
sustainability. And in doing so, nature benefits.

If you have tons of electrical devices, you should consider producing  
some of the energy to run them. I'm not talking about heat and a/c, a  
fridge/freezer, water heater and stove. I'm talking about big screen  
plasma TVs and dozens of computers all over the house, high wattage  
stereos and video game systems (the ps3 comes to mind - whatta power  
hog) massaging recliners, hot tubs... I believe that common sense  
should be used, and no mandate given though. If you use an exceptional  
amount of power, you should pay more for it.

On Mar 10, 2009, at 8:47 AM, Jeff Walther wrote:

>> Date: Tue, 10 Mar 2009 12:52:08 +0100
>> From: Jos Hoekstra <joshoekstra at gmx.net>
>> 'you Yanks' are
>> still paying ridicillously little for your power.
> There is no virtue, nor advantage to paying more.

The virtue, or advantage, of paying more, is that people waste less.  
It's a simple fact of life. You can rant and rave, and insist that  
people conserve energy... but the second you start charging more for  
it, the usage goes down. Look, for example, at our fuel usage last  
summer. I'm not suggesting we artificially inflate prices to decrease  
waste - but if it works, then why not? Use the surplus money for  
forward thinking improvements that make for sustainability rather than  
padding wallets.

If you want to grow a garden, or have a green lawn, capture the runoff  
from your rooftops, store it, and use it to water those things. Then,  
that much more potable water is available for someone else to use from  
the public utility company. Grey water systems are an excellent way to  
conserve. Take a shower, and then use that same water to water your  
lawn. Same with laundry water. Toilet water needs to go to the sewer  
and be properly processed.

Nobody has to suffer to reach this ideal, but everyone has to  
sacrifice a little. Nobody wants to sacrifice anything. And our  
society of greed and selfishness keeps rolling on towards the huge  


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